Indonesian airport officers check the temperature a passenger amid concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak at Sultan Iskandar Muda International airport in Blang Bintang, Indonesia's Aceh province, on March 16, 2020. (AFP / Chaideer Mahyuddin)

Experts refute misleading claim that bathing in hot water can prevent COVID-19

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A post shared repeatedly on Facebook claims that taking a hot bath is an effective remedy against the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The claim is misleading; health experts say there is no scientific evidence that bathing in hot water can prevent people from catching the virus; the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that bathing or showering in very hot water can be “harmful”.

The post was published here on Facebook on February 18, 2020.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

Screenshot of the misleading post

The post’s caption translates to English as: “Taking a hot bath is also good to prevent coronavirus. Let us install Vigen (not stands for virus generator).”

The post was published alongside three images of water heaters produced by the Indonesia-based manufacturers, Vigen. Its products can be seen for sale on the Indonesian marketplace Tokopedia here and here

COVID-19 has killed more than 14,000 people and infected nearly 333,000 others, according to this WHO report, dated March 23, 2020. 

A similar claim was also shared here, here, here and here on Facebook.

The claim is misleading.

Dr Dirga Sakti Rambe, an internist and vaccinologist at Jakarta’s OMNI Pulomas Hospital, told AFP by WhatsApp on March 19, 2020: “There has not been any scientific evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be killed with hot water.” 

The WHO has also issued a statement here on its website that “taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19”. 

It reads, in part: “Taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. 

“The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.”

Below is a screenshot of the WHO statement and infographic:

Screenshot of the WHO’s statement